University of Cambridge > > Quaternary Discussion Group (QDG) > Reconstructing the extent, timing and palaeoclimatic significance of Quaternary glaciations in the Mediterranean region

Reconstructing the extent, timing and palaeoclimatic significance of Quaternary glaciations in the Mediterranean region

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Glaciation has affected many Mediterranean mountains on multiple occasions through the Quaternary. In the Pleistocene, glaciers were extensive and the altitudinal pattern of glaciation closely matches the modern distribution of precipitation, with some of the lowest glaciers forming in the western Balkans and northwestern Iberia. Conversely, the highest glaciers formed in areas that are currently the hottest and driest of the Mediterranean, such as in Morocco and central Turkey. In the western Balkans, ice caps covered large areas of Croatia, Montenegro and Albania. Further south in Greece, ice caps, plateau ice fields and valley glaciers were widespread throughout the Pindus Mountains. The largest glaciers of the Balkans formed during the Middle Pleistocene, although substantial cirque and valley glaciers were also present during the Late Pleistocene. In the western Mediterranean, ice caps and plateau ice fields formed over many of the mountains of Iberia and even in Morocco. Understanding the extent and timings of glaciations in this region is important for understanding landscape evolution and the effects of global climate change on the Mediterranean region. In recent years the timing of glaciations during the late Pleistocene has been revolutionised using cosmogenic exposure dating, revealing asynchronous glacier behaviour across the Mediterranean through the last cold stage. There is also evidence that small glaciers survived into the Holocene. Today, only a few small niche glaciers survive. These modern glaciers are much smaller than 150 years ago at the end of the Little Ice Age when Mediterranean glaciers were much more common.

This talk is part of the Quaternary Discussion Group (QDG) series.

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